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Girl forced to marry her rapist

By BY SINIKKA TARVAINEN AND MOHSIN EL-HASSOUNI | Mar 20, 2012 | COMMENTS [ 31 ]

Life with violent husband and unkind in-laws was hell and she committed suicide by drinking rat poison - aged only 16

The Moroccan government is considering changes to women’s rights legislation after the suicide of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who was forced to marry her rapist and whose story has shocked Morocco.

Amina was raped by Mustafa Salek, 25, at knife-point in a forest on her way from school in her home village of Chourfa near the northern city of Larache, her family says.

Amina’s father lodged a legal complaint over the incident, but the judge organized for mediators to talk to the two families, and Amina was pressured into marrying her rapist to save her reputation and to allow him to avoid prison.

“It never seemed a good idea to me, but my wife insisted on it, because she feared society and tradition,” Amina’s father Lahcen Filali told the Spanish daily El Mundo.

However, Amina’s life with her new family turned out to be hell, with her husband beating her and her in-laws blaming her for the rape and calling her a prostitute, the Filali family says.

Amina committed suicide this month by swallowing rat poison — a desperate act that turned her into a symbol of the oppression of women in the North African kingdom.

The case has sparked a string of demonstrations, internet campaigns and promises from Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane’s Islamist government to consider legislative changes.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI is known as a pioneer of women’s rights in the Arab world.

The renewed family law or moudawana, adopted in 2004, made it possible for women to initiate divorce, outlawed the right of a man to single-handedly repudiate his wife, restricted polygamy and improved women’s inheritance rights, among other changes.

The new moudawana also raised the legal marriage age for women from 15 to 18, making it the same as for men.

However, women under the age of 18 can marry with the authorization of a judge, as happened to Amina Filali.

Conservative judges often apply the law according to traditional values, and issue more than 30,000 authorizations annually for under-age girls to marry.

Moroccan penal legislation also retains an article allowing a rapist to avoid prison by marrying his victim — a law women’s rights activists and human rights groups are campaigning against.

“It is unthinkable to be raped and then having to live with the rapist,” said Rhizlaine Benachir from the Jossour Forum of Moroccan Women.

“It is easy to say you forgive, while in fact (the law) authorizes rape. If there is no judicial pursuit, it only encourages rapists to continue raping.” 

The law is in contradiction with Morocco’s new constitution - approved in July — which condemns discrimination against women, Benachir said.

Under Moroccan law, rapist can face jail terms of up to 20 years. Rape victims are often blamed for the crime, especially in rural villages, such as the one Amina Filali lived in.

Amina’s father, who has no money to hire a lawyer, is now counting on women’s rights activists to help him sue her daughter’s rapist for her suicide.

Benkirane’s government, which in November became the first Islamist party to take power, appeared confused about how to handle the Filali case.

Justice Minister Mustafa Ramid accepted the version of Mustafa Salek, the alleged rapist, who said Amina had agreed to have sex with him.

But Family Affairs Minister Bassima Hakkaoui — the only female minister in Benkirane’s coalition government, and an Islamist like Ramid — sided with feminists.

“The law needs to be reformed urgently and there will also be a debate on the marriages of minors,” she said.

“The young girl was raped twice,” government spokesman Mustafa el-Khalfi said. “She was raped sexually and by forcing her to marry her rapist.”

Sapa-dpa

COMMENTS [ 31 ]

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Very sad.......... patriachial rules are ki.lling our kids.

Not that it is any consolation but should they have opted for Sharia Law, the poor girl would have been stoned to death

Mar 20, 2012 8:29 | 0 replies

It was the Stoning of Soraya and now this; some men really do not have regard for the beautiful kind of the Earth Farm.

Please arrest both families and charge them accordingly.

Rest well Amina

Mar 20, 2012 10:43 | 0 replies

Sowetan whats wrong wht u

Mar 20, 2012 10:53 | 0 replies

how do you mary a 16 year old in the first place Mustafa Salek marete a go stupit bloody rapist

Mar 20, 2012 11:17 | 0 replies

The parents were aware about their child unhappiness but didnt act and now that she is dead they want to sue? mxm selfish parents

Mar 20, 2012 11:28 | 0 replies

Ao shame, poor Amina, o jell ha-le-phirime, rather than gore a jewe ke kolobe

Mar 20, 2012 11:33 | 0 replies

Tkay, read well, the father is suing and he was against the marriage from the beginning, maar bcos Women rule some families, he couldn't do zitch! Obviously nna a tshabe go timiwa, tltltltltl!

Mar 20, 2012 11:47 | 0 replies

I only hope social change will still come to that country
In the form akin to metamorphosis (excuse spelling i have no time)

South Africans

Once again pat your own shoulders for progressive legislation

Think these things sometimes before you criticise government

niwayenze lapho nina lawo masimba zinja ndini
Not in this country!!

Mar 20, 2012 11:49 | 0 replies

Almighty God, let the gates of the heaven open for her spirit, her only sin was to be a female in a bad country.

Mar 20, 2012 11:59 | 0 replies

being ra.ped
forced into marrying the mo.nster
blamed for ra.pe
physical and emotional abuse
Her parents's betrayal
No one on her side--- It ws too much! I would killll myself too

Mar 20, 2012 12:0 | 0 replies

Typical Muslim patriachy

Mar 20, 2012 1:0 | 0 replies